HR leaders say there are serious implications for their counterparts at Chelsea Football Club since the club has been sanctioned.

The Premier League has disqualified the club’s owner Roman Abramovich when the UK government imposed sanctions on him after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This led to him trying to sell the club, but the oligarch has been banned from doing that too, as it would mean he profits from the sale.

Until May, the club has been granted a special licence for football-related activity but there are restrictions on the sales of tickets, merchandise and player transfers. 

HR implications

Teams within HR circles say this would be a worrying time for the club. 

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, advises that there should be daily communication with staff to ensure they feel secure in their roles.

She said: “The football industry, like all others, suffered during the pandemic and staff who were just starting to get back on a more even keel are now once again dealing with a lot of uncertainty.”

 “The cascading effect of the sanctions placed on Abramovich will be felt by the workforce at Stamford Bridge and associated supply chains.

Ms Palmer adds: “Perhaps most importantly from a HR perspective, the closing of ticket merchandise outlets means that those workers will need to be reallocated to other duties for the period of closure. If reallocation isn’t possible, then employees may need to be laid off and, ultimately, may face redundancy if the closure continues.

Cutbacks to labour

Chelsea FC may continue to pay staff wages, but if staff contracts are open to interpretation on how much they get paid when laid off, there could be some who lose out, Ms Palmer warns that as there are also limits on security, catering and stewarding spends, it could mean job losses at the club for people in those roles. 

She said: “One of the trickiest elements of the process is that there is no certainty on how long this period will last.

“Chelsea’s HR function needs to step up here; this unique situation will naturally cause confusion and worry amongst affected staff and it’s important HR are up to date with the impact of employment laws to ensure this doesn’t create further problems for the club.

Sponsors back out 

Nike has said it will continue to sponsor the club, but shirt sponsors Three have suspended their arrangement, as well as Hyundai. Due to the government allowing the club to train and play its fixtures, it also allows he club to spend up to £900,000 on match-day costs. The club may retain any prize money earned but ticket sales and merchandise sales are still heavily restricted.

There is a possible new owner to Chelsea FC in longtime Blues fan, property developer Nick Candy. Reports suggest the 49 year old is in talks to buy the club before the deadline closes at the end of the week. 

He has also said he would help the club out financially in the short term, if the government restrictions continue to deplete its resources.